After two successful Batman games bearing the Arkham name, the very title Origins indicates a look at how we came to know Batman's relationship with Arkham Prison and its inhabitants of dastardly criminals.
Instead of gripping us with a hero struggling with a dual identity of vigilante and boyish billionaire, we get a retread of old tropes and familiar trappings. Sure, Batman comes off a little less refined. The Batcave is still under construction, and you learn how Batman came to be an archenemy of the Penguin, Joker, Riddler and others. But if you think traveling around the city beating up random thugs, investigating/thwarting crimes, solving Riddler puzzles and earning upgrades to make you a nearly unstoppable force sounds just like the first two games -- well, you're right.
Arkham Origins shows off the most expansive city environment yet. Unfortunately, nothing new of note populates the city. You swoop in and around Gotham tackling adversaries like Bane, Copperhead and Deathstroke. Fighting any of them devolves into a pattern-recognition exercise, as you wait for timely counterattacks or button-mashing to pummel foes to a pulp. Once you complete the campaign, an interesting online multiplayer mode awaits. Three teams have it out across a number of maps, with two teams of thugs battling each other while a third team, comprising Batman and Robin, attempts to disrupt the proceedings. Too bad the Dynamic Duo have limited abilities and die too easily.
Batman is still the hero we will always need, but this is not the game we deserve.
RATING T for teen
PLOT In the beginning, there was Batman.
DETAILS PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, $59.99
BOTTOM LINE No superhero worship here.